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Healthcare for migrants: rejecting the unacceptable

The 2016 "Prescrire Prize" book awards featured a discussion-debate on the theme: "Healthcare for vulnerable migrants. Taking action to ensure access to high-quality care for everyone". The following excerpts are from the presentation by Arnaud Veïsse, the director of Comede, the French Committee for the Health of Exiles.

One school of thought advocates separate care services for migrants. This is also seen in assertions designed to convince people that migrants have specific health problems, associated with their culture or with torture, and in the whole range of measures put in place for migrants, as if it were not possible to integrate them into our public services and as if dedicated centres to provide health care to migrants were truly necessary. This is not our experience at Comede, and it really is not compatible with the diversity among the people who come to us.

Rejecting the unacceptable
The response to this situation is not to devise a form of medical care just for the vulnerable, in which it is accepted that we cannot treat everyone in the same way and that the most vulnerable migrants must therefore do without care considered necessary for the general population. Rejecting the unacceptable means continuing to be outraged every time we feel a situation is not compatible with the right to healthcare and access to high quality care for all.

A different approach
We often feel powerless to solve the serious problems of the person in front of us. But we must also remember that healthcare for exiles, who have suffered so much trauma, first and foremost means to welcome and listen to the person, and to offer recognition, healing and human interaction. We’ve all had the rather strange experience of feeling that we haven’t really been able to make any difference at all, and yet of having someone in front of us who thanks us, because we devoted some time to them, because we were able to talk to each other, because we gave them some information, and because our approach to them was different from the way in which they are used to being treated in society.

©Prescrire 1 September 2017

"Healthcare for migrants: rejecting the unacceptable" Prescrire Int 2017; 26 (185): 222-223. (Pdf, free).

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See also:

 VIDEO  View the videos
of the discussion-debate
"Caring for vulnerable migrants.
Acting to ensure access to
quality care for all."
(in French)
 > Free

The 2016 "Prescrire Prize"
is awarded in Paris to
3 noteworthy books about
health and healthcare
(October 2016)

en situation précaire -
soins et accompagnement.
Guide pratique pour
les professionnels
(Recipient of the
2016 Prescrire Prize)
Pdf (in French, 17 Mo)
available for free download
at www.comede.org